Ever since I’ve discovered the glories of butternut squash, there’s rarely a week goes by without it being added to a dish or several. As with pumpkin, I tend to use more Middle Eastern or Indian flavours in my squash dishes – cumin and coriander seeds are particular favourites – but, as it’s been a while since we’ve had a curry, I turned to the January edition of delicious. magazine for a recipe with more Asian leanings.
Telegraph food writer Tom Norrington-Davies (looking like a terribly cute yellow-jumpered gnome in the photos!) did a feature on oh-so-seasonal root vegetables under the heading of The Comfort Zone which, somehow, managed to incorporate a Pumpkin and Peanut Curry. As always, I busily messed around with the recipe, substituting squash for the pumpkin, adding carrots, and stepping up the chilli content.
As with all recipes involving chilli, add as much – or as little – as you feel comfortable with and always remember that their strength vary considerably. I am speaking from bitter (albeit slightly warm!) experience, here, after my fingertips tingled for a couple of days the first time I made a Thai Green Curry. Now I do all deseeding and chopping chillies with my hands safely enclosed in rubber gloves.
It might be an unusual ingredient in a curry but it is worth searching out some decent peanut butter for this storecupboard recipe. In New Zealand we used to buy the most amazing peanut butter from Piko Wholefoods that they seemed to make on the premises. There was no salt or sugar added to the mix – it was just, simply, peanuts ground into a paste. Here even slightly substandard peanut butter gives this convenient curry a delicious savoury, nutty depth.
Coconut and Peanut Curry
Hot water – 200mls
Crunchy peanut butter – 2 tablespoons
Tomato purée – 1 teaspoon
Lime – zest and juice
Thai fish sauce (nam pla) – 1 tablespoon
Soy sauce – 1 tablespoon
Fresh coriander – small handful with, if possible, roots attached
Red chillies – 3, deseeded and finely chopped
Garlic cloves – 4, peeled and finely chopped
Fresh ginger – 2cm, peeled and finely chopped
Vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons
Red onions – 2, peeled and cut into thin wedges
Carrots – 4, peeled, halved and cut into 1cm thick slices
Butternut squash – 1 medium, peeled, deseeded and roughly diced
Coconut milk – 1 x 400ml can
Peanuts – 2 tablespoonfuls, roasted and chopped
Measure out the hot water in a large jug, add the peanut butter and stir until it dissolves then stir in the tomato purée, lime zest and juice, Thai fish sauce and soy sauce.
Remove the leaves from the coriander and set aside. Chop the stalks and roots as finely as possible and mix with the chopped chillies, garlic and ginger.
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions over a high heat for a few minutes until they start to soften and slightly brown. Add the carrots, fry for two minutes, then add the squash and fry for another two minutes. Sprinkle over the chilli mixture, cook for one minute and pour over the coconut milk and peanut butter mixture. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until the mixture has reduced a little and the vegetables are tender. Season to taste, then sprinkle with the coriander leaves and chopped roasted peanuts.
Serve with piles of fluffy basmati rice.
Adapted from Tom Norrington-Davies’ recipe for Pumpkin and Peanut Curry.